The evolution of business and management
The fundamental processes of business and management – how we organise, coordinate and direct human activity towards collective goals – have always been a feature of human life, and subject to co-evolutionary development. This means they have adapted to the changing patterns of human life, whilst seeking to satisfy the relatively unchanging forces of human nature. The result has been a journey of cultural revolutions through our species’ history. The nature of this process, and the inputs of human nature, is illustrated by taking the Credit Crunch of 2008 as a case study: looking at how this classic ‘bubble' was fed by human motives, cognitive biases, social preferences, collective behaviour, symbolic sensitivities, and individual differences. The review then broadens in scope to look at the history of work organisation and how the concept of self-regulation is a key explanatory process mediating cultural evolution. Business and management can be seen as conditioned by the tendency for male dominance hierarchies to shape organisational design, and the article considers how alternative paradigms are emerging to adjust to the new realities of advanced economies. In particular, the adaptive challenge for leadership is discussed in two ways: first via a review of the effects of different paths to leadership positions, and second by an analysis of how leaders’ self-regulatory dynamics determine their effectiveness. The chapter concludes by discussing the implications this analysis has for the capacity of our species, via leadership and organisation, to meet the extreme and testing global challenges we face in the twenty-first century.
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